Wetwork (Russian: мокрое дело, romanized: mokroye delo)[1] is a euphemism for murder or assassination that alludes to spilling blood.[2] The expression and the similar wet job, wet affair, or wet operation are all calques of Russian terms for such activities and can be traced to criminal slang from at least the 19th century[3][4] and originally meant robbery that involved murder or the spilling of blood.

The operations are reputed to have been handled by the CIA and by the KGB's SpecBureau 13 (Spets Byuro 13), known as the "Department of Wet Affairs" (Otdel mokrykh del).[5][6][7]

See also


  1. ^ Becket, Henry S. A. (1986). The Dictionary of Espionage: Spookspeak into English. Stein & Day.
  2. ^ wet work. Definition on Merriam-Webster (accessed Feb 2024)
  3. ^ Maksimov, S. V. (1869). "Музыка или словарь карманников, т. е. столичных воров (Music or a dictionary of pickpockets, i.e. metropolitan thieves)". Сибирь и каторга [Siberia and Hard Labor] (in Russian). СПб.: S. V. Maksimov.
  4. ^ Dubyagin, Yu. (1991). Толковый словарь уголовных жаргонов [Dictionary of Criminal Slang] (in Russian). Moscow: Inter-Omni. ISBN 5-85945-002-8.
  5. ^ Barkdoll, Robert (November 22, 1965). "Russian Terror Agency Described by Defector". Los Angeles Times. p. 16.
  6. ^ Price, Anthony (1972). Colonel Butler's Wolf. Mysterious Press. ISBN 9780445402249.
  7. ^ CIA (1993) [1964], "Soviet Use of Assassination and Kidnapping: A 1964 view of KGB methods", Studies in Intelligence, 19 (3), archived from the original on March 27, 2010